Mayor Cabaldon and the local school district
aren’t going to see eye-to-eye on this one.
At last week’s “State of the City” address by
the mayor, Cabaldon took credit for bringing leadership reform to Washington
Unified School District. A decade ago, as Cabaldon reminded his audience, the
mayor formed a “blue ribbon commission” that harshly criticized the district
and its school board. He then supported candidates for the school board who won
and changed the board’s complexion.
Local schools started to improve after this
intervention, he said.
Flash forward to the present date. There’s a
new and different generation on the school board, led by board president Dave
Westin. This board believes it’s on the right track, and believes that a
20-point jump in standardized student test scores last year proves it.
But Cabaldon doesn’t see it that way.
“Over the last three years, that remarkable
progress has slowed somewhat,” said Cabaldon, in an oblique criticism of
Westin’s regime. The mayor added that the test scores are masking a gap in
achievement, particularly among Latino students, and they don’t address the
drop-out problem. He proposed some level
of increased involvement by the city and community in this problem – although
some of his suggestions were small (give preschoolers a few of their own books)
and some were, as yet, still vague. But the real news was that he was again
pushing the city government onto school board turf.
Now, the mayor doesn’t run the school
district any more than the school district runs the city fire department.
Cabaldon and Westin are not close partners. Comments such as those the mayor
made last week aren’t likely to be well-received at 930 Westacre Road. Cabaldon
is smart enough to know that before he spoke up.
Whether Westin and Cabaldon can get along
well is unimportant. More important is whether local education can come out
ahead if the local city government starts putting some pressure again upon the
Washington Unified School District.